cover image Trainman


Peter T. Deutermann. St. Martin's Press, $25.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-312-20375-7

Flexing his considerable prowess at plotting as well as his ability to generate believable, sympathetic characters, Deutermann (Option Zero) delivers his most accomplished thriller yet. Two plot lines evolve, then converge. One concerns the plight of a military train caught in a perilous race against a mad bomber who's intent on destroying a series of strategic railroad bridges. The other involves the FBI's bureaucratic incompetence. When the crash landing of an air force C-130 carrying four decaying Russian nuclear warheads at Anniston (Ala.) Army Weapons Depot coincides with the terrorist demolition of one of the six major railroad bridges across the Mississippi on the eve of a major cross-country train shipment of lethal chemical weapons containers, a disaster is in the making. Assigned to find the saboteur is career FBI agent Hush Hanson, who suspects the bureau's devious director of setting him up to fail when Carolyn Lang, a beautiful female agent with the reputation of being the director's hatchet person, is assigned to partner with him on the case. As more bridges go down, the plight of the doomsday train intensifies and it becomes ever more obvious that Hanson has been made the fall guy in a scenario fraught with high political stakes. Finally, relieved from duty, Hanson and Lang are left alone to save the day--and to deal with the steamy sexual tension that has arisen between them. Deutermann writes a sinewy, active prose that's well suited to his taut tale. The narrative exudes authority--and the author, in fact, used to be an arms control specialist with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Intelligent, expertly detailed and highly suspenseful, Deutermann's sixth novel is a speeding entertainment locomotive. Agent, Nick Ellison. Author tour. (Sept.)